(SPS) — For the past several years on Valentine’s Day, the halls of Sapulpa Junior-Senior High School have been filled with crocheted hearts featuring encouraging words. And for four years, the identity of the “Valentine’s Day Bandit” has been a mystery. Until now…
The crocheted hearts, which are actually pins you can wear, are attached to small cards with messages such as, “Happy Valentine’s Day, you are ‘marvelous,’ ‘dazzling,’ ‘nifty,’ ‘the bee’s knees,'” and many, many more. The cards, hung on lockers and along the school corridors, encourage finders to take the pin and message and pass another Valentine to a friend. Clearly, our “Bandit” is industrious, talented, creative and very thoughtful.
Athletic department secretary Sally Shinn is excited every year when she sees the hearts. She’s wearing a red one today.
“I just think they’re awesome,” said Mrs. Shinn. “Every year, you walk in and they’re there and you get chills. I have them right now. It’s such a sweet, unselfish thing. It takes lots of preparation to crochet these and then make the notes, and then hang them all over the building. It’s better than roses from your husband!”
SHS STEM instructor Ken Cole is new to Sapulpa this year. He was surprised to find his classroom door covered with hearts and messages.
“Probably the best way to walk into school and be greeted on Valentine’s Day,” said Mr. Cole, reading the messages.
SHS Teacher of the Year Jeremy Lusk, known for his encouraging notes to students, denies any involvement.
District Resource Officer, Patrolman Jonathan Noah, was on the case.
“It seems to be a pattern once a year,” he said. “We do not currently have any leads, but I’m on it. This seems to be a pattern once a year. They’re pretty good, this is going to be a tough one to solve.”
SHS secretary Flo Pahsetopah, the eyes and ears of the high school, led us in the right direction — to Sapulpa Virtual Academy Coordinator Kimberly Leonard.
Mrs. Leonard witnessed junior high students “paying it forward” — giving the hearts to other students. She made a phone call to the mother of the suspected “Bandit.”
SHS Junior and Sapulpa Virtual Academy student Madisyn Green quickly confessed to being the Valentine’s Day Bandit.
Madisyn says she started what’s now become a Valentine’s Day tradition in 8th grade, while at Sapulpa Junior High. She began working on it in the summer, crocheting a few hundred hearts. She’s added more each year — except for last year, when Valentine’s Day was a snow day. This Valentine’s Day, she made a total of 1,202 hearts with creative messages.
She and two friends visited Sapulpa Junior-Senior High School Friday night and hung up all of the heart messages.
“I just want to make sure everyone feels loved,” said Madisyn, who crochets as a hobby.
As for the creative messages, Madisyn says, “I have a thesaurus. Anything under good or beautiful, it’s going in there.”
She’s glad the tradition has taken off and students are passing the gifts around.
“This is one of the coolest pay-it-forward things I’ve ever seen,” said Mr. Cole. “I’m really, really impressed.”
When she graduates next year, Madisyn plans to take her creativity to the next level.
“Right now, I’m looking at going into fashion or animation in the future,” said Madisyn. “Fashion is what I’m doing at the moment.”
Thank you to our very own Valentine’s Day Bandit, Madisyn, for her extraordinary, fabulous, marvelous (and all the adjectives) gesture!
You can watch the school’s video story below: